John G. Vignocchi came into the development scene in 2000 and was one of the driving forces behind Midway's NBA Ballers franchise. Prior to becoming a game developer, Vignocchi ran a small multi-platform games site that was one of the first affiliate sites of IGN. Through his website he would meet several developers from Chicago based Midway Games which led him to his internship at the company.
On August 15th, 2008, Vignocchi left Midway Games to help start up a new Chicago-based studio for Vogster Entertainment. There, he oversaw the production of an original IP for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and assisted the company with business development.
Vignocchi left Vogster Entertainment in 2009 to join Disney Interactive as a development director.
He was promoted to Executive Producer of the Disney Infinity franchise in 2010.
He was Laid off along with The rest of Disney interactive as the Studio was shut down as Disney at large decided to leave Game Development. As of May 2017, Vignocchi has not indicated yet where he plans to go next.
Vignocchi attended Lake Forest College in his hometown of Lake Forest, Illinois. During his sophomore year he was offered an internship at Midway Games, working under his favorite childhood game designer, Mark Turmell. After several months Vignocchi was offered a full time position as an assistant producer at Midway. His positions at the company were:
- 2000-2001: Assistant Producer
- 2001-2002: Associate Producer
- 2002-2004: Game Designer
- 2006-2007: Senior Game Designer II
- 2007-2008: Lead Designer
- 2008-2008: Product Strategist
Vignocchi joined fledgling start-up Vogster Entertainment in 2008 in a dual role as a senior producer/business development manager for their Chicago studio. While there, Vignocchi helped the independent developer achieve publisher status with first parties, while also managing the build-out of their Chicago studio, recruitment of development personnel and ideation/pre-production of a Unreal-based "Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse" game. The rights to the "Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse" IP had been purchased out of the 3DO bankruptcy by Michael Mendheim, a key executive at Vogster Entertainment, with the intention of creating a trans-media experience that would span video games, comics and alternate-reality gaming experiences.
Vignocchi also assisted with the development and release of Robocalypse, a quirky tower-defense game for 3DS and iOS. A sequel entitled Robocalypse: Beaver Defense would later be released on WiiWare. Both games were written by Jay Lender, former writer/creator of SpongeBob Squarepants.
Also at Vogster, Vignocchi assisted with the release of Unbound Saga on PSP and (later) Xbox Live. He helped secure placement of Unbound Saga in the "Summer Of Xbox Live" program with Microsoft.
Sadly, the primary reason Vignocchi had come to the developer was soon stripped away: The "Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse" game would not see the light of day, as Vogster Entertainment executives decided to pull investment in their Chicago studio after the New Jersey based sister studio released MMO "CrimeCraft" to abysmal sales at retail.
"Four Horsemen" would see release as a graphic novel series, thanks to the unrelenting efforts of Michael Mendheim. The comic was written by Mendheim, with art done by Simon Bisley.
In November of 2009, Vignocchi would leave Chicago and move to Los Angeles to take a job as a Development Director for Disney Interactive. Vignocchi was the key publishing contact for Disney's Vancouver-based Propaganda Games, helping manage development of Tron: Evolution and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Armada of the Damned.
After a large corporate restructuring at Disney Interactive, Propaganda Games was shuttered due to the division refocusing development to mobile/social. Vignocchi would soon be contacted by John Blackburn, VP/GM of Avalanche Software in Salt Lake City (also owned by Disney Interactive) to be the publishing-side producer for the Salt Lake based studio. Blackburn came across Vignocchi via his studio's lead designer, who had worked previously with Vignocchi on NBA Ballers while at Midway Games.
Vignocchi's interview with the team at Avalanche took place at a local bar called "The Bayou" over a six hour time frame. The team peppered him with questions about his development/production philosophies, what he considered to be the most overrated game of all time, and more. Over the course of the interview, the group discovered that they had many mutual friends in common, including Mark Turmell, Sal Divita and Ed Boon from Midway. Many of the founders of Avalanche Software had started at Sculptured Software, who handled ports of Midway's old arcade games for SNES, Dreamcast, Playstation and more.
In August of 2013, Disney Interactive released "Disney Infinity" where Vignocchi was credited as executive producer. In April of 2014 the company announced that the game had made more than $500 million at retail.
Vignocchi was the executive producer of Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, which launched in September 2014.
Vignocchi announced on November 9th that he was promoted to Vice President of Production for Disney Interactive.
During the E3 2011 Bombcast, John freestyled about Bing, the New Xbox Experience, DLC, Sony and Microsoft's press conference, and sweaters while longtime friend Adam Boyes beat-boxed. The lyrics:
Bing to the NXE / Understand, it's me - Johnny V.
Can't find DLC / need a search engine to optimize to find it for me.
Real quick let me think about this / Microsoft's press conference was the sh*t.
Everyone was saying Sony's was better - I think they crazy / I'm hot, I'm wearin' a sweater."
After this line he "ran out of words".
- Vignocchi is a member of the Chicago Yacht Club and is an avid boater.
- Preferred Prototype to Infamous.
- Is a Rock Band fan, who bought the entire $250 set for Beatles Rock Band, just days before he got laid off from his job at Vogster Entertainment. He contemplated sending back the game to EA with his resume.
- Is proud of the soundtracks that he supervised for the NBA Ballers series, the first of which was nominated for "Outstanding Achievement In Original Music Composition" by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.
- Dubbed "The Juggernaut" and also "Johnny the Juggernaut" in grade school, this was due to his uncanny ability of charging the opposing team when engaged in basketball.
- Donkey Kong Junior is his favorite game of all time.
- Has previously been banned from World of Warcraft for farming out his character to a guy in China for $10 a day to help him grind to the title of "High Warlord."
- Has been nominated by Giant Bomb as the video game character that they'd Most Like to Party with, but lost to Brucie from Grand Theft Auto 4.
- Was nominated for a second Giant Bomb award, for Video Game Character That They'd Most Like to Party With, but lost to Eddie Riggs from Brütal Legend.
- Was nominated yet again for the Giant Bomb award for Character We'd Most Like to Party With, but lost to the Illusive Man from Mass Effect 2.
- Is a fan of the pinball game Medieval Madness.
- Joked that he looks like Rufus from Street Fighter 4.
- All of his grandparents died from cancer.
- Is close friends with Adam Boyes and was his roomate for four years while they worked at Midway Games in Chicago. Jeff Hilbert of DDM once asked how they both fit inside their apartment, a reference to how big the two friends are..
- Accidentally leaked Rock Band Blitz at GDC.
- Made a bet with Ryan Davis on the Gran Turismo 5 release date. If the game met its proposed release date of November 2, Vignocchi was to shave "RD" on his chest. If he won, he would get a Giant Bomb art treatment of himself. Vignocchi was ultimately victorious, and Ryan had the art made up and printed on a blanket and a plate made of China.
- Has had four cats in his lifetime - Maximillian (Golden Persian), Principessa (Silver-Point Persian), Sir Tucker Kengsington Vignocchi (Bengal) and Rosie (Moo-Cow).
- Does impressions of both Ice T and Marlon Brando.
- Did readings from Ice T's Twitter profile while doing an impression of Ice T during Giant Bomb's panel at PAX Prime 2010.
- Prefers to refrigerate his peanut butter.
- Claims his middle name is "Gallagher."
- Is totally sourced in a college English textbook.
- Longtime friends with John Drake. During GDC 2010, the two friends brought key executives from Disney and Harmonix together to discuss a collaboration between the companies, which would eventually lead to a co-development deal for Fantasia: Music Evolved.
- Jokingly does not respond well to questions regarding the presence or absence of Jeff Bridges and Daft Punk in the recent Tron: Evolution video game.
- Was married in 2011.
- Enjoys Super Mario Bros snacks and Donald Duck orange juice.
- Was diagnosed with Pancreatitis in 2011. After spending three weeks in a ICU in Coral Gables, Florida, he flew back to LA to make it onto the Bombcast during E3.
- Loves popcorn. Is a kettle corn devouring aficionado.
- Known to spend $27 at Taco Bell.
- Worked with Adam Boyes (while he was at Capcom) to bring Disney and Capcom back together to do an HD-remix of Duck Tales.
- Likes awkwardly clapping very hard.
- Named one of the most 50 admirable people in gaming by Polygon.
- While working on Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned at Disney Interactive, Vignocchi would meet Alex Peters (the Game Director on the project) who would go on to become VP of Production for the Skylanders franchise at Activision. Despite being bitter rivals, the two remain close friends.